If you are familiar with the tech scene in 2013/2014 in Nigeria, then you’ll be able to relate to Omotayo Madein’s story.
‘Tayo as she’s popularly called, started her journey into Software Development when it was not a thing in Nigeria/Africa. She studied “Software Engineering” and has built up on other interesting aspects of her life up till now.
Read about Tayo’s career progress story.👇🏽
Tell us about yourself
My name is Omotayo “Tayo” Madein. I am a Senior Software Engineer at Andela and I am working with our partner, Pluto TV, where I build products that are used internally to curate or program channels, videos, and on-demand content; ingest content from Pluto TV’s media partners and ensure quality control in what is shared with our end-users/viewers. I am passionate about gaining insight into the interaction processes between humans, computers, and their environment.
When I am not working or doing some personal research on random subject matters, I enjoy traveling and exploring new places, food, and culture; reading a good book (especially African fiction and some autobiographies), binge-watching TV shows with strong female leads (shoutout to Captain Janeway), listening to short podcasts (shoutout to creators of ~20mins podcasts), hanging out or gisting with friends and family, etc.
Your educational background?
I got a BSc in Software Engineering from the American University of Nigeria in 2011 and I got an MSc in Human-Computer Interaction from the University of Birmingham in 2013. Since then, I have completed many online courses to improve the skills that I needed on the job.
Did you always want to be in STEM?
I was always on the STEM path because I always thought I was going to study medicine until I started applying to universities. The options that were available to me at the time did not sit well with my soul, but I also had an option to study software engineering, so I sought advice from my parents. We discussed my love for computers and how it would be great to learn how they work and build up on it. That was all the push I needed, my parents were very supportive throughout the process and continued to encourage me.
Tell us about work as a software engineer when you started?
When I joined the workforce, the experience was different. I wanted a job that balanced long-term and hands-on software engineering experience as well as user research. If you are familiar with the tech scene in 2013/2014 in Nigeria, you will remember that we did not have a lot of jobs that catered to this need, most startups and consultants building products, delivering them to the client and moving on or engineering jobs that were restrictive.
To achieve my personal goals, I had to change jobs a lot. I did this unconsciously at the time, but for each role I started, I had goals I wanted to accomplish, these ranged from learning a new tool to honing a skill. I knew it was time to move on when the company could not provide an environment for me to achieve my next set of goals.
My passion to always be better at what I do has helped me realize that the only way my career can evolve to match my dreams is to always remain open to learning and change.
Your typical day as a Software Engineer involves …
My typical workday involves technical and some non-technical meetings with my team members, reviewing team member's tasks, and working on tasks that are assigned to me. When working on a new task, I start by creating a to-do list in my text editor and then expand the list based on what must be done to complete the task. During this process, I often learn about or experiment with new approaches or tools and I finally implement the most efficient. I often reach out to my team members or colleagues if I feel stuck or need a second opinion on my approaches. After completing challenging tasks, I ensure I do a personal retrospective just to reinforce what I learned during the process.
Have you faced any difficulties so far? Or ever felt like you were not treated as equal?
One major difficulty I faced was getting critical feedback from my team members and colleagues. This affected my ability to progress in my work and also relatively identify areas for improvement. I didn’t know how to handle it, so as usual, I consulted Google and I found some articles and videos about proactively seeking feedback and asking questions that would encourage getting feedback. Some examples of questions I ask are:
- “How would you have solved this problem?”
- “Do you think there are any areas of this I can improve?”
- “Do you think there is anything I could have done differently on this project?” etc
By asking these questions, the other person was able to share areas I can improve in as well as how they felt about the work or contribution. Asides from asking questions, I offer feedback and ensure that I encourage other team members to review my work.
Thank you for sharing, these are helpful.
What’s the highlight (and worst experience) of your career so far? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I think I have an experience that covers the highlight and failure aspects for me. In 2017, I worked for two companies who either closed up shop quickly or did not keep to the end of our work agreement.
The highlight of this experience was that it was the first time I felt like a true and professional Software Engineer, although I had been working for about 3 years at the time. I had the opportunity to work with great engineers who helped me to see the value I brought to the team and created numerous opportunities to grow together. I understood my strengths and skills, and the effectiveness of constructive feedback to my career development.
The failures from this experience were that these companies closed shop or stopped keeping their end of our contract within ~3 months of working with them. This was not a fault from the engineering team but was due to the structure of the company and the priorities of its main stakeholders at the time. What these experiences taught me was the importance of ensuring your career goals align with a company, interviewing a company, doing your due diligence and identifying red flags before making any commitments to a job. The interview process is not just about what the company offers you, you have to be sure that they are also the right fit for you.
Hmmm…You are right
Your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” and how it’s relevant to you in your life?
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. ” ― Alvin Toffler
As a lifelong learner, this quote is quite important to me because it keeps me grounded and always open to learning new things or changing my position on any subject matter when presented with new information.
What were you doing the last time you looked at the clock and realized you had lost all track of time?
Work — I was debugging and pair programming with a colleague and realized that 3 hours had gone by.
How do you strike a work-life balance?
Since I started working from home, I always ensure I only work during my stipulated work hours. I fill my non-work hours with personal activities so I am not tempted to do any work. I exercise daily, I have a loose routine and I enjoy taking time off to explore new places or hobbies. I alleviate stress by exploring one of my hobbies.
Your favorite work tools?
VS Code, My Macbook, headphones
Your Philosophy/Motivation to work?
My philosophy to work is to always remember that I am trying to be better than who I was the previous day. This is what keeps me going!
So So Random: What can’t you do without
Hair or heels? — Hair
Jewelry or make-up — Jewelry
Books or movies — Movies
Club or Cafe — Cafe
DIY or Pay someone — Pay someone
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Every Tuesday, we publish stories here about African women’s journey in STEM. We know every STEM woman’s story is unique…so we tell these stories to inspire our community. If you would like to share your story with us, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, we can’t wait to read from you!